More Notes on California's Feb. 5, 2008 Presidential Primary Election

Qualifying for the Ballot
(Secretary of State)

Be named by the Secretary of State as a generally-recognized candidate or circulate nomination petitions.
-Determination of generally recognized: For Democrats Secretary of State must make announcement by Dec. 4, 2007 (E-63); for Republicans and other parties announcement must occur on or before Oct. 8, 2007 (E-120).
-Circulating petitions: Oct. 8, 2007 (E-120) through Dec. 4, 2007 (E-63).

Voting Systems

On Aug. 3, 2007, following a top-to-bottom review of voting systems, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced decertification of Diebold, Hart Intercivic and Sequoia direct recording electronic systems.

Setting the Primary Date

Part 1: On Sept. 27, 2004 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed into law SB1730 which moved the state's primary back to June.  The legislation, by Sen. Ross Johnson (R-Irvine), had easily passed both chambers of the legislature.  Johnson termed the March primary an "utter failure."  His office noted, "In the 2004 Primary, California set a record for the lowest turnout ever in a presidential primary election.  In the 2002 Primary, California set a record for the lowest turnout ever in a primary election in our state's history.  And California's eight-month gap between the primary and general election resulted in the lowest turnout ever for a general election in November 2002."

Part II: On Feb. 24, 2006 then Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D), chairman of the Committee on Elections and Redistricting, introduced AB 2949, a bill to "require the Secretary of State to select a date that results in California being the first state in the United States to hold its presidential primary, as specified."  AB 2949 would also have required the presidential primary to be conducted entirely by mail.  Umberg's bill did not pass.

Part III: In 2007 there was a reinvigorated effort to move to an earlier presidential primary.  On Jan. 17, 2007, in response to a question at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon, Gov. Schwarzenegger stated,

"I've spoken to the leaders about that, and I think that it is just something that we should look at, because I'm interested to make California a player.  I mean, right now, think about it, we are the number one state in the union, we're the number one place in the world, and yet we are kind of an afterthought when it comes to presidential campaigns.  I mean, all those guys come out here and they clean up, and they take the money and they run; millions and millions and millions of dollars, both parties.  But we have no—we are not part of the decision making.  Or that they're even coming here and campaigning here, because they just it write if off, because California is not relevant.  So what we want to do is, we want to make California relevant.  And I think the way we make it relevant, this state, is by moving up the primaries maybe to February.  So this is something we talked about, and I think that that is something that we should shoot for."
On January 18, State Senator Ron Calderon (D), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments, announced legislation, SB113,  to move California’s presidential primary election to the first Tuesday in February.  The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 31 to 5 on February 13, the Assembly followed with a vote of 46-29 on March 6, and Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the measure into law on March 15.

There remains a June 3, 2008 statewide direct primary for U.S. Representative in Congress and Members of the State Senate and State Assembly.

Also of Note

On July 17, 2007(>) the Republican-leaning Californians for Equal Representation started an effort to qualify an initiative for the June 2008 state primary ballot, which, if it had qualified and passed, would have changed the allocation of electoral votes in the November general election from winner-take-all to by congressional district.

Copyright © 2008 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.